The Spirit Opens Doors
Acts 16:1-10 continues the narration about how Paul distributes the message of the Council of Jerusalem to the brothers. “Day after day”, Luke narrates, “the churches grew stronger in faith and increased in number.” The apostolic message was being received like the gospel first proclaimed by Peter. The selection also records the beginning of Paul’s second missionary journey. Here, his companion is Timothy, the son of a Greek father and Jewish mother. It is interesting that for the sake of the Jews who were there who knew Timothy to be the son of a Gentile, Paul asks his assistant to be circumcised. What makes this more interesting is the case of Titus whom Paul did not ask to be circumcised “even though he was a Greek” (Galatians 2:3) The key word is “for the sake of the Jews”; the circumcision of Timothy was for the sake of the weakness of another, and not on account of the Law. The same principle that Paul uses for food offered to idols is applied in the case of Timothy:
So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols: we know that “there is no idol in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.”5 Indeed, even though there are so-called gods in heaven and on earth (there are, to be sure, many “gods” and many “lords”),6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist.
7 But not all have this knowledge. There are some who have been so used to idolatry up until now that, when they eat meat sacrificed to idols, their conscience, which is weak, is defiled.8 Now food will not bring us closer to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, nor are we better off if we do. 9 But make sure that this liberty of yours in no way becomes a stumbling block to the weak.10 If someone sees you, with your knowledge, reclining at table in the temple of an idol, may not his conscience too, weak as it is, be “built up” to eat the meat sacrificed to idols?11 Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died.12 When you sin in this way against your brothers and wound their consciences, weak as they are, you are sinning against Christ.13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause my brother to sin. (1Corinthians (NAB) 8)
Another point of interest in this selection is the work of the Spirit of the Lord who continues to direct the missionary action in the background. Paul and company are “prevented by the Holy Spirit” from workin in the province of Asia; in Mysia, “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” to go further. It was at Troas where Paul receives the vision to go to Macedonia. Macedonia is the place where one finds the cities of Philippi and Thessalonica, the location of Paul’s favorite Christian communities. Corinth is also in the region where later on a very charismatic Christian community will arise. What is interesting here, for any missionary or pastor, is that being “blocked” in progress may not only be due to Satan, but also through the Holy Spirit who may close a door to one endeavor but open up another that would be better.
The selection ends with one of those “We-statements” that break into the Lucan narrative. Scholars tell us that this is because Luke has been using the materials he wrote in his travel diary. We have here a very personal memory of Luke transferred into history.
Popularity: 4% [?]